Workplace Literacy

One of the great groups that I am involved with is the North Peace Literacy Alliance. At this month’s meeting, I was please to review a presentation prepared by Clarice Eckford, the Fort St John Literacy Outreach Coordinator on workplace health and literacy. Here are some interesting points from this presentation:

  • In a recent study by the Conference Board of Canada, 82 percent of employers surveyed said that increased health and safety was linked to an essential skills program in their workplace.
  • Measurable outcomes include health (e.g. injury or illness prevention) while outcomes that are difficult to measure includes wellness (e.g. increased confidence, overall sense of satisfaction)
  • Essential skills include reading, document use, numeracy, writing, oral communication, working with others, continuous learning, thinking skills and computer use.
  • Literacy also comes in other forms such as well financial, health, workplace, cultural, family, media, and document.

What is really interesting is that studies over the past few years have determined that 45+% of people in Canada (it is a bit higher in the NE British Columbia) are below functional literacy levels. This includes things like completing an application form, reading the newspaper, balancing a chequebook or even figuring out change.

Workplace literacy is a major challenge for many employers and it is exasperated by the lack of time and resources for employers to deal with it. This results in additional costs to the employer and we end up in the proverbial Catch 22 situation- “ I don’t have time to deal with it but my problem continues to cost me time and money”.

If you an employer or know of someone who needs help, there are resources out there to provide help. There is a Guide for Employers and Practitioners-….

As well, you can call Clarice Eckfort in Fort St John at 250-262-2088 or email her at